Message Number: YG2019 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-01 23:49:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Low blood sugar but no physical signs

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., ferretwoman33@y... wrote:
> I have a 7+ year old ferret with adrenal disease. Last month when
> took him in to have a Lupron shot, the vet checked blood sugar
> and told me it was 21. Since he had not been eating well for the
> past week, I figured that may have been the reason. He hasn't
> shown any signs of insulinoma. We started him on prednisone .35 mL
> twice a day. About 10 days later, his hair started growing back,
> he was a little more playful. I figured it was due to the Lupron
> reversing some of the symptoms and he was feeling better. At the
> next visit to the vet (a month later) for a check-up we had to wait
> about a half an hour in the room for the vet. I let Bandit out to
> run around, and he actively ran around, checking out every corner
> that room. The vet came in, and did another blood sugar test (I
> don't know how long it had been since he ate, at least two hours)
> this time the blood sugar level was even lower - too low to show up
> on the tester. Now, last time I had a ferret there that had a test
> that range, she was in a coma. How can my active little ferret
> such a blood sugar result and still be standing, let alone running
> around? Do you think his machine is wrong, or do some ferrets just
> handle lower blood sugar levels better? I would at least expect to
> see some weakness in his hind legs, but nothing - he's running
> chasing me, climbing up on the sofa without problems. I just don't
> understand!

21 is too low to go without some type of clinical symptom.
One explanation for low values in apparently normal animals is lab
error (which I unfortunately see on a regular basis.)

The most common reason for this error is poor handling of the
sample. Red blood cells have the ability to utilize the glucose in
the serum to continue their vital processes once the blood is removed
from the body. If the sample is not quickly spun down and the red
cells removed, then they will continue to utilize the glucose in the
sample to maintain their own cellular processes.

Usually, the samples are clotted and ready to spin within 5 minutes.
The fact of the matter is that during office hours, many clinics are
very busy, and often don't have the time to spin down samples
immediately. Few clinics have full-time lab personnel - usually one
of the techs handles bloodwork as well as other chores. Emergencies
also come up. If the blood sample gets parked for 15-20 minutes, the
decrease in glucose is noticeable.

While there is always the possibility for an animal to adapt to a low
blood sugar, I would think that one this low (only 25% of the normal)
would have to result in some symptoms.)

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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